|Madame Defarge, there's no need to bring your own knitting...|
Here’s just a taster:
• several scarves, some more useful than others, all of them in vivid colours and all of which which seemed like a good idea at the time
• a pair of genuine Turkish trousers, blue, baggy (think Disney’s Aladdin), elastic gone, bought at a market stall in Dogubeyzit/Kars/Antakya in 1988
• three biodegradable plastic bags, partly biodegraded
• numerous winter hats (all very welcome at the moment)
• numerous sun hats, two with midge nets attached (which would have been very welcome if I could have found them in time for our summer holiday in 2012)
• Two full-length Victorian-style white cotton nightdresses (from my New Romantic era) now yellowed with age, one of them torn
• Four pairs of walking trousers, one still fitting and two with buttons still attached
• A plastic tiara, with attached note, in an unknown adult’s handwriting, saying: Thank you so much, you saved my life (?)
• My knitting (no, I didn’t know I knitted either)
• Something at the back which I daren’t investigate further in case it bites.
You know where this is going, don’t you? Just as in life I don’t shovel things into the recycling until it’s absolutely certain that I’ve no possible use for them, so it is with plots. It’s why I never throw away my old notebooks or drafts (and they’re in another cupboard that I haven’t fought way way through to just yet) in case there’s germ of an idea in there.
I never throw away my characters either. My hero and heroine in No Time Like Now first came to me way back in the early 1990s and wandered around in limbo for years, never meeting until the autumn of 2013. So why would I waste some other partly-planned character who was just unlucky enough to surface in the wrong plot, only to be written out at second draft stage?
And the ideas. And the titles. And the rest… periodically I gather them up and look at them with a critics eye, but I always keep them.
In real life those white nighties might come in useful, too. (I mean, you never know when you’ll need something to tear up for bandages — just think of The Railway Children.) The sun hats and midge hats are obviously going to be indispensable in the very near future. And even the knitting will come in handy of I’m ever the props manager for a stage version of A Tale Of Two Cities.
Being realistic, though, I’ll probably have to give in to common sense and get rid of at least one of those plastic bags…